It's Week 13 and we've reached the home stretch sitting four games above .500 for the year. We've got five weeks to keep it going, starting this Sunday. We'll be quick with the picks this week because a) Chris Paul rumors sapped me of any Friday energy, and b) I'm catching a flight in a few hours for a phenomenally impulsive trip to Lexington, Kentucky.
Let's get to it.
All picks in BOLD.
Denver at Minnesota (-1) ... This was the first line I saw this week and I had to do a triple-take. Have people not watched the Broncos the past few weeks? Clearly, way too many people are betting against the Broncos based soley on Tim Tebow being due for a reality check. That's understandable, but it's stupid. Even if you think Tebow's a complete fraud destined to be exposed, you can't deny that he and the Broncos are on a roll, and momentum is half the battle when you're talking about two average teams like this.
Besides, the dominant defense is no fluke--Von Miller and Brian Dawkins are two of the most terrifying people in the NFL. One's aging, one's still maturing, but they're both lions that just ravage people by nature. And oh hey look, they're approaching a defenseless Christian Ponder.
Tennessee at Buffalo (-1) ... If you were a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan, doesn't it hurt more to see your team start that way and get your hopes up, then completely collapse? Wouldn't it be better to just go 3-13 and draft Matt Barkley?
New York Jets at Washington (+3) ... The bright side for Bills fans: Even if this season's been more gut-wrenching than usual, they can take solace knowing that Redskins fans have been living that cycle for a solid 15 years.
Kansas City at Chicago (-8) ... I have no idea why, but one year in college I decided I needed an authentic orange Devin Hester jersey. It was stupidly expensive, I don't like the Bears, and never even loved Hester that much, so I don't know what convinced me that I needed this so badly. I was drinking a lot at the time. But I got it, and five year's later it's still the coolest NFL jersey I own.
Carolina at Tampa Bay (-3) ... This weekend could be what determines whether Cam had a great first half of the season, or just a great first season.
Atlanta at Houston (+2.5) ... Going T.J. Yates here because he went to North Carolina, and I'm headed to Lexington this weekend to support the Heels on enemy territory, so solidarity's important.
Quick digression on UNC basketball: So far it's been about what I expected. The Tar Heels were billed as a juggernaut, but it's still a pretty young team that's feeling things out as they go. They may not win a national title this year, but we won't know either way during the first few months. The last two titles they've won, the team didn't really hit an extra gear until late in the year, when they blew away pretty much everyone. It's all about finding a rhythm where everyone clicks at the same time, especially when you've got a solid 5 guys (Barnes, Zeller, Henson, McAdoo, Hairston) who deserve touches on offense. Right now when the Zeller/Henson combo gets going, it comes at the expense of Harrison Barnes' rhythm, and vice versa. If they figure that problem out by March, nobody's beating them. And yeah, of course I think they'll win on Saturday.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-7.5) ... It's been too long since we bet against the Steelers for no reason whatsoever. F**k the f***ing Steelers.
Oakland at Miami (-2.5) ... It's been fun riding the Raiders resurgence the past few weeks, but man, if they make the playoffs it will be so terrifying picking them to win. Or picking them to lose, for that matter.
Baltimore at Cleveland (+7.5) ... The Art Modell bowl! He's like LeBron, but old and white!
St. Louis at San Francisco (-15) ... A classic NFC West showdown.
(UPDATED because somehow we forgot to include this pick.)
Green Bay at New York Giants (+7.5) ... This looks like one of the toughest games standing between the Packers and an undefeated season, but after reading Bill Barnwell's The Annual Pursuit of Quitting On Tom Coughlin, and watching Drew Brees absolutely destroy them in that Monday night game... It's just too hard to pick against Green Bay here.
Dallas at Arizona (+4) ... Well the Cowboys have needed last-second field goals to beat the Redskins and Dolphins in consecutive weeks and it's gotta be a little concerning but hey, four game winning streak!
Detroit at New Orleans (-10.5) ... Maybe it won't happen this week, but at some point in his career, here's to hoping that Ndamukong Suh disobeys one of his many inevitable suspensions and bursts onto the field out of nowhere like the legendary wrestling heel that he already he is.
Indianapolis at New England (-21.5) ... Thank God for flex scheduling.
San Diego at Jacksonville (+3) ... Seriously, between this and that Thursday Night game... Thank God for flex scheduling. No, it's not Monday yet, but this game already makes me want to kill myself.
OVERALL RECORD: 87-83-3